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Bathroom Demo Part Deux

If you missed my first and second post about my kids bathroom revamp, click here and here.  

Now for the most UNFUN part of this entire project.  Figuring out what/how to redo the flooring.  After my initial frenzy of the joy of demoing all that tile, I was left with a total mess.  Tiles everywhere,  nasty plywood underlayment with thick thinset all over it.  I hadn’t at this point fully committed to totally ripping it out and talked to several people who suggested I try to “save” the plywood.  I was hesitant because I had read so much on the internet about cement board and how it is the best for wet areas, but I figured it was worth a try.  Big Mistake.  Insert sad faced Bethany below.

Please note that these are all pictures I took on my iPhone to update Russell at his work.  I wanted to show him progress throughout the day and this was the easiest and fastest.  I had never intended to blog these pics or I might have tried harder (or tried to look cuter). hehe.  I sent that sad face pic to him after spending waaay too much time trying to clean up that old plywood.  It was dirty, exhausting, pointless work.  After lots of frustrated hours, I figured it would be easier to rip it out, start anew, and do it the right way.

Little did I know how difficult plywood removal is when you’re doing it with just a crowbar, a small chisel, and a small sledgehammer.  I don’t own a good saw (although I eyed this one when half way through the plywood removal), and basically used the little brute strength I have to rip out that underlayment.  It smelled horrible (the glue in plywood is very toxic) and it was liquid nailed and screwed down, and splintered badly.  I removed the screws I could find, but most were under thick layers of thin set that I couldn’t scrape off. I didn’t buy a saw, mostly because I didn’t want to spend more money.

I didn’t take many pics of that process mostly because I was single mindedly determined to Get. It. Out.  It took me several days.


We hadn’t removed the toilet yet but when we did, we made sure to drain the lines, scoop out any remaining water in the tank/bowl, and plug up that pipe with a rag.  It wasn’t as gross as I had read about on the internet and was so much easier than I had thought it would be.  It lived in the hallway on top of a plastic drop cloth for many moons while I finished out the bathroom.

Now for the fun part of actually making forward progress!  I had ripped out the old tile “baseboard” which damaged the drywall badly all along the bottom of the walls.  I had a sheet of wet-rated drywall leftover from our kitchen revamp (maybe I’ll blog that someday, too!) and did some fancy geometry to cut it up exactly right to fit in the spaces.  Stay in school kids.  Math exists.

We also went to our good ol’ Home Depot store (conveniently super close) and picked up several sheets of cement board.  I used Hardiebacker.

I cut the hardiebacker using the handy carbide scoring tool recommended and even though it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t hard. I read you’re supposed to stagger the joints and all other sorts of install tips.  I read a lot about it here.

We were committed to trying to save this bathtub.  I hadn’t removed the tiles on the tub surround yet and was planning on leveling the existing tub once that was done.  You can see the tub apron in the top right hand pic below.

I was so hopeful in removing the subway tile surround that I could save some of the tiles.  Nope.  Not a one.  I was happy to see that they were installed over cement board (no damage behind those walls!) but whoever did this tile installation hadn’t taped or mudded those seams or put up a vapor barrier.  I am still incredulous as to why the bathtub was never leveled.  The tile job was so shoddy.  It was so satisfying to rip it all out.


This demo process took around 20 days.  That’s a long time compared to a crew of professionals, but I am most definitely not a professional.  I had limited tools to work with, and was juggling being a busy mom of three, with a sweet (and very patient) husband, too.  🙂  After doing all of this work, I had decided the tub had to go.  It was a flimsy shell of  a thing, with sides that bent easily when pushed on and barely nailed to the studs (you can see the nails if you look closely in the pic above).  It was a big step forward as we hadn’t budgeted for a new tub.  But I am SO GLAD I removed it.  It was so flimsy I literally picked it up and carried it down the stairs all by myself.

And with that, the bathroom “demo” was mostly complete.  We didn’t move walls, we didn’t change plumbing.  But we had taken this bathroom from scary fun-house to blank slate.   So exciting!!

Next up, choosing and installing a new bathtub and (eeee my fave!) that hex floor….

By | 2017-02-06T10:56:32+00:00 April 30th, 2014|

One Comment

  1. […] floor we demoed in our bathroom was actually already a form of hex tile with squares in between.   Still classic and lovely (just in our case very poorly installed).  I would have kept it in a […]

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